Welcome to the second part of the Authority Internet Business Traffic and Income Report.
This is a series I started almost a year ago.
To show what it’s like to build an authority business from the ground up. The goal of every post is to detail the specific actions I take to grow my site (DevelopGoodHabits.com) and help you learn valuable lessons along the way.
An important part of this process is doing a regular report that breaks down the traffic and income the site has generated.
Specifically, we’ll cover six major sections:
- Traffic Results
- Income Results
- Total Expenditures
- Future Strategies
Like most folks, I love it when bloggers show how much money they really make from their businesses. With the Traffic and Income Report, I hope to show what works with an Internet business and what doesn’t. Rather than just talking about different strategies, I’ll let you know if they actually help me grow my business.
A lot has happened in the last three months. Specifically, December was my best month ever for the business (we’ll get to that in a bit.) First, I’d like to provide a quick overview of a major shift I went through during the last quarter.
“This tale grew in the telling.” — J.R.R. Tolkien.
When I originally envisioned this project, I pictured an isolated case study where I wouldn’t leverage my “personal brand” to promote the site. But I quickly realized that the only way I’d make it successful was to put my heart and soul into growing the business. That meant sacrificing other projects I meant to work on—namely writing more Kindle books about starting and running an Internet business.
I felt the habit books would be extremely helpful to my current audience. In fact, I even received a few emails from subscribers to this blog who were angry because I wasn’t telling people when one of my habit books was for free or discounted at $0.99. Here I was writing lots of content, but by my own “rules,” I couldn’t tell anyone about it.
So I decided to email my list to see if they’d be interested in hearing about business-related habit Kindle books. By an overwhelming majority of 95 percent, subscribers said they were interested:
After a lot of thinking, I’ve decided to treat Develop Good Habits like any of my other Web businesses. If I’ve created a piece of content that’s helpful to an Internet business audience, then I’ll share it.
Ultimately this means the “validity” of this case study is called into question. While I’m still using a lot of strategies (outside of Kindle) to grow my business, I can no longer say that I had no help with growing it. In other words, I have an unfair advantage most people wouldn’t have if they were starting out on their own.
All that said, I still feel there’s a lot to learn from what will be published in the months to come. Specifically, I’ll cover the principles of team building and scaling small successes into a full-blown business that doesn’t require a whole lot of day-to-day management.
There’s a lot more I could say on this topic, but I’ll leave the conversation for the comments section. If you have any questions or concerns about what I just said, feel free to respond at the end of the report.
It’s been three months since the last traffic and income report.
Let’s find out what happened.
I’m a big fan of mastermind groups. Whenever one of these meetings starts, it’s standard practice for members to share their breakthroughs and successes. So in the spirit of this idea, let me talk about two successes I had with DevelopGoodHabits.com (DGH) in the last three months.
#1: “Doubled Down” on Kindle Books
Another thing I envisioned when I started out was building a business that generated multiple streams of income. Kindle publishing would be an important part of it, but it wouldn’t be the only part. Things changed in the last three months when I started to see the income from the habit books take off. Instead of focusing on income diversification, I decided to “double down” on my efforts and publish more books.
Doubling down is a common blackjack expression, but I think it can also apply to any business. When you notice a strategy is working really well, instead of trying to do other things, you focus 100 percent on that activity. Put succinctly:
“ When a strategy becomes really profitable, the best thing to do is double down. (Tweet this!)
In the last traffic and income report, I talked a lot about creating a habits-related Udemy product and YouTube channel. Unfortunately, that never happened because I was spending all my time on the Kindle stuff, and I probably won’t take action on these ideas during the first quarter of 2014.
What did I do to “double down” on Kindle in the past three months?
Here’s a short list:
1. Wrote three more Kindle books (halfway through the next one)
2. Deleted a rough draft of another book (we’ll talk later about why this is a good thing)
3. Changed the “back matter” of my books to create a compelling call-to-action to buy another related book
4. Mapped out my Countdown Deal strategy for the months to come
5. Researched ideas for the next five books
6. Leveraged existing contacts in the personal development space (see below) to get extra promotion whenever I launched a book
7. Experimented with free book promos to drive potential customers to books going through a Countdown Deal
8 Tracked each individual link to a book to see where I’m generating the most downloads and sales
9. Mapped out an editorial process where I’ll have multiple people do developmental editing and proofreading (again, more on this later)
Doubling down can have an exponential effect on your business—especially when it comes to Kindle books. When you consistently publish new content and couple it with intelligent marketing, it’s not hard to turn a casual reader into someone who buys multiple books you’ve written. So far this strategy is working well, but only time will tell if it was the right move.
#2: Built Quality Relationships
Another strategy I talked about implementing in the last report was building networking relationships with other bloggers in the personal development niche. Although I didn’t talk to as many people as I would have liked, I feel I’ve made some quality connections.
There were a few things I did:
- Commented on blogs I like and shared their content via social media
- Became more active on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest
- Sent personal emails to the bloggers I like and asked how I can help them
- Got on Skype with a few bloggers and talked about our businesses
- Created an autoresponder where I ask email subscribers to reply back to me with a successful habit they’ve developed
- Promoted a couple of books by other authors to my list
The important thing to remember here is I didn’t promote my books or the blog. While I talked about them, I never asked for anything. Instead, I looked for ways to help other people at first. While this strategy won’t have an immediate impact on my business, I think it’ll be well worth the effort throughout 2014.
Recognizing your failures is equally as important as talking about your successes. Actually, sometimes it’s the failures that provide the most important lessons in life. In this section, I’ll talk about two things that went wrong in the last quarter of 2013.
#1: Throwing Out a Rough Draft
My plan for the last three months was to publish four Kindle books. For awhile I was on pace to easily reach that mark, but in late November, I wasted two weeks on a book that went nowhere. While the content was okay, I couldn’t figure out a way to make it really good. So I ultimately decided to toss it out and start a new one.
I don’t know about you, but I hate losing time on projects that go nowhere. While I still think it was a smart move to toss out that book idea, it was a bit disheartening to know I wouldn’t reach my target goal of publishing four books.
#2: Lack of a Second Income Stream
As I mentioned before, “doubling down” has its disadvantages. When you choose to focus on one thing, you ignore other strategies that might be just as effective. By 2014, I planned on having a YouTube channel and a habit-related Udemy project. Neither happened. In fact, I didn’t take a single step forward on either idea—except talk a big game about how I’m going to do both.
I really like the income from Kindle publishing, but it’s scary to have all my eggs in Amazon’s basket. Who knows what will happen in 2014? Perhaps Amazon will make a change to their policy that will severely impact my income. This is something I need to remember as I build DGH.
The Web traffic to Develop Good Habits didn’t go up that much during the last quarter. Again, this goes back to my strategy of doubling down. Although I managed to publish about an article per week, I haven’t done a heck of a lot to promote the site.
My traffic generation strategy only includes the following:
- List building with Kindle books
- Email subscribers who are reading specific blog posts
- Search engine traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo
- Social media—specifically Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter
- Direct referrals from other personal development blogs
Here is a screenshot from the past three months (October 1 to December 31):
Here are the stats for the fourth quarter of 2013 and how they compared to the totals from the last traffic and income report:
- 13,384 visitors (an increase of 7,207 visitors)
- 8,753 unique visitors (an increase of 4,667 visitors)
- 02:36 average visitor duration (a decrease of 0:13)
- 60.89 percent bounce rate (an increase of 17.75 percent)
When looking at these numbers, you’ll see that my average traffic more than doubled from the last report, but the visitors are not as engaged and more than half leave without checking out a second article.
Now, let’s break down traffic into specific sources:
- 7,965 direct
- 2,656 search engine
- 422 Amazon (browsers, not book buyers)
- 408 Pinterest
- 150 Google+
I’m happy to see that most of this is direct traffic. These are people who buy/download a book, join my email list and go check out my blog posts. This is a good thing because the site is being built on strategies that I control, not ones controlled by Google.
Now, a metric that’s more important (in my opinion) is the number of email subscribers. As I mentioned in the post about monetization, the Most Wanted Response (MWR) for DGH is to build an email list.
How many subscribers did I generate in this three-month span?
Here they are (broken down by their subscription path):
- Kindle books: 604 subscribers
- Mobile apps: 99 subscribers
- Splash page: 97 subscribers
- Sidebar widget: 49 subscribers
- Total for 4th Quarter 2013: 849 subscribers
- Previous total: 940 subscribers
- Grand total (up to Jan. 1st): 1789 subscribers
Overall, I’m happy with the traffic and subscriber numbers. I’m most excited about the fact that my email list doubled in the last quarter. The important thing here is most of these people are buyers, not freebie seekers. They’ve already purchased one of my books, so they’re more likely to be engaged in the content and take action whenever I have a new book to offer. Hopefully this trend will continue throughout 2014.
Okay, here is where the rubber meets the road. While it’s nice to talk about successes, failures and traffic, most people want to know one thing—how much money have you made?
Well, right now, my income comes from three places:
- Habit Kindle Books: 70 Healthy Habits, Wake Up Successful, Writing Habit Mastery, 10,000 Steps Blueprint, 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits and Resolutions That Stick!
- Amazon Associates (physical product and book recommendations on DGH)
- RevMob (an advertisement platform for the app Trigger Monitor)
In the last report, I mentioned that the business generated total revenue of $3,741.92 in the preceding six months. So here’s what happened in the last three months of 2013:
- Amazon Kindle: $2,466.51
- Amazon Associates: $37.27
- RevMob $9.57
- Amazon Kindle: $4,229.41
- Amazon Associates: $43.70
- RevMob $8.67
- Amazon Kindle: $14,918.49
- Amazon Associates: $383.72
- RevMob: $3.15
Income 4th Quarter 2013 (October through December): $22,100.49
Previous Income: $3,741.92
GRAND TOTAL: $25,842.81
I could pretend to be nonchalant about these numbers, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been doing the “Snoopy Dance” since I calculated everything a few days ago. While I knew December was a good month, I didn’t think it would reach that mark.
That said, my income relies too much on Kindle publishing. I have to start thinking about what I need to do to reinvest this income and grow my business, which we’ll cover in a bit.
Every online business requires a financial investment. The trick is to know what’s worth buying and what can be skipped, so another point of this case study is to provide a financial breakdown of what I spend on DGH.
There are five categories of expenditures for Develop Good Habits:
- Web Development: Domain registration, hosting (with HostGator), WordPress theme (Canvas theme) and Web design tweaks
- Content: Blog posts, editing, Web articles, lead magnet creation and a few e-book sections
- Graphics: Stock photography, logo design and e-book covers
- Mobile Apps: Graphic design, wireframing, programming and app store submission
- Marketing: Press releases, Fiverr gigs, paid advertising and various experiments
Here is the financial breakdown during the three-month span:
- Web development: $293.00
- Content: $1,434.55
- Graphics: $561.00
- Mobile apps: $120
- Marketing: $239.00
Expenditures 4th Quarter 2013 (October through December): $2,647.55
Previous expenditures: $4,515.53
GRAND TOTAL OF EXPENDITURES: $7,163.08
Now, compare my expenditures to my overall gross income and you’ll get the net income for Develop Good Habits:
Gross Income: $25,842.81 – Total Expenditures: $7,163.08 =
Net Income: +$18,679.73
In the last report, I talked about wanting to turn a profit on the Develop Good Habits website. Now that I’ve reached that goal, I’m looking to take the bulk of this income and reinvest it back into the business.
So let’s talk about what’s going on in the 1st quarter of 2014.
“Make hay while the sun shines.” – Classic proverb
It’s easy to look at the earnings in the last quarter and think it’ll last forever, but you can never predict what will happen in the future. Instead of spending this money, I plan on investing it back into the business. For the first quarter of 2014, that means focusing on a single strategy.
#1: Scale the Business and Hire Talent
Right now, the obvious strategy would be to keep writing more Kindle books. If something works, doesn’t it make sense to do more of it? The problem with this mindset is the whole operation depends on me. If I’m not doing all the tasks that support the Kindle business, then eventually the royalties will come to a grinding halt.
That’s why I’m focusing on building a (small) team around DGH and training them to support many of the actions required to support my day-to-day operations. I’ll still write all of the Kindle books because that’s an important part of my brand, but I’m going to start delegating the tasks that take up a lot of my time.
Ideally, I’d like to reinvest the money and find people who can:
- Take my rough drafts of Kindle books and turn them into polished products.
- Do the same for all of the content on both of my blogs
- Handle the day-to-day monotonous tasks (for instance, I’m in the process of hiring a general virtual assistant, using Chris Ducker’s Virtual Staff Finder).
- Do a second proofread of my rough book drafts after they have been reviewed by me and another editor
- Take my existing content, break it into quality articles and post them on high-traffic forums
Honestly, I don’t need to be the one who proofreads and edits the content. There are people who are smarter and waaay more talented at it than me, so it makes sense to find these editorial/ghostwriting superstars and have them polish the content that I put together.
While this strategy won’t be cheap, I feel it can save me 15 to 20 hours per week on my business, which frees me up to focus on two key areas: writing good content and building relationships with other bloggers.
Well, that’s it for the second update of the Authority Internet Business Traffic and Income Report.
It has been an interesting three months, and I look forward to what will happen in the next quarter.
Now it’s your turn.
While this case study focuses on my experiences with growing an authority business, I’d love your feedback.
Post your comments in the section below.
Have a question about the case study? Want to see a specific type of content? Have feedback about what’s happened so far? Got a great idea for me?
If so, let me know your thoughts.Take Action. Get Results.
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